(Photo from Real Numbers Facebook page)

MANILA – Almost 14,000 drug suspects tagged as high-value targets (HVTs) across the country have been arrested since the start of the Duterte administration's crackdown on illegal drugs in mid-2016, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) reported on Monday.

Based on PDEA's latest Real Numbers data, a total of 13,996 HVTs were arrested from July 1, 2016 to Nov. 30, 2021.

The figure includes 6,158 HVTs arrested from high impact operations, 3,830 target-listed suspects, 1,449 drug den maintainers, 796 drug group leaders/members, 511 government employees, 394 elected officials, 349 foreigners, 284 included on wanted lists, 126 uniformed personnel, 75 armed group members and 24 prominent personalities.

Authorities also arrested 319,929 individuals involved in illegal drugs during the period.

As of November this year, the consolidated report showed 6,221 drug suspects have died during 221,657 anti-illegal drug operations.

From July 2016 to November 2021, authorities also arrested 4,086 minors. This can be broken down into 2,421 pushers; 967 possessors; 438 users; 229 visitors of drug den; nine drug den maintainers; 17 drug den employees, two cultivators, one clan lab employee, and two runners.

According to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the rescued minors, after court proceedings, will be turned over to the Bahay Pag-asa centers of LGUs within eight hours of police custody, before turning them over to the DSWD.

Since they are minors, the DSWD said they would not be put behind bars together with hardened criminals.

Authorities also dismantled a total of 982 drug dens and 18 are clandestine shabu laboratories in the same period.

Various types of illegal drugs worth PHP74.30 billion were seized, which include PHP62.35 billion worth of shabu.

At least 23,686 out of the 42,045 barangays (villages) have been declared drug-cleared as of August 31 while 11,730 have yet to be cleared of illegal drugs.

These barangays have reached drug-cleared status after the issuance of a certification by members of the Oversight Committee on Barangay Drug-Clearing Program.

The agency assured that the health and safety of its agents are prioritized in anti-drug operations.

Earlier, PDEA Director General Wilkins Villanueva said the 'Barangay PDEA' program aims to promote a "balanced and humane" anti-drug campaign as it provides the public a more comprehensive platform of information on the harm reduction initiatives of the Barangay Drug Clearing Program (BDCP) like the Community-Based Drug Rehabilitation Program and Balay Silangan, both drug intervention programs for surrendering drug users and pushers to help them reintegrate in the society and become productive citizens.

Villanueva also vowed to go after village chiefs who fail to establish their own barangay drug abuse councils (BADACs).

Villanueva said PDEA, as the lead agency against illegal drugs, has adopted a three-pronged strategy in the national anti-drug campaign which focuses on reducing its supply, demand, and harmful effects.

The agency has created a Barangay Drug Clearing Program Working Group for Monitoring and Validation to fast-track drug-clearing operations in the communities and prevent the proliferation of illegal drugs in the barangays.

During President Rodrigo Duterte's Talk to the People on December 22, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said that 11,035 individuals have so far availed of community-based wellness and recovery programs for drug surrenderers as part of the government's holistic approach to the illegal drug problem.

Sa ngayon ay mayroon na ring 22 Drug Treatment Rehabilitation Centers na sa pangangalaga po ng DOH, at mayroon isang Mega Drug Rehab Center po na nandoon sa (Fort Magsaysay) Currently, there are 22 Drug Treatment Rehabilitation Centers under the care of the DOH, and there is a Mega Drug Rehab Center in Nueva Ecija),” he added.

Año noted that the administration's anti-drug campaign has resulted in lower crime rates.

“Almost 41 percent ang ibinaba ng crime volume. Tumaas din po ang ating crime solution efficiency, naging 85 percent at tumaas din po 'yong crime conclusion efficiency (The crime volume dropped to almost 41 percent. Our crime solution efficiency soared to 85 percent),’’ Año pointed out. (PNA)